Several years ago, my wife and I took a vacation where we drove to Mexico City in an old Volkswagen van. Neither of us speak Spanish, but along the primary route down and in Mexico City itself, we had no trouble communicating because many people there spoke English. After spending a few days in that city, we decided to make our exit from Mexico by driving up a highway along the west coast of the country. That route provided us many attractive views of the Pacific Ocean and, as we got farther north, the Gulf of California, the body of water between the Mexican mainland and the Baja peninsula.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.